The Plight, Neglect and Illusion of Nigerian Youths, By Chi Dika

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I wish to let the youths see the plight they face every day and to pat them on the back to let them know that they are yet doing well. I want them to understand the burden of neglect that the society has heaved on them and to let them know that the illusion of not being able to lead or participate in politics is all but a façade to keep the system running in the same way.

In every action I always draw out the pattern.

Draw out the pattern? “How?”, you must be wondering. Well, it’s been proven that nothing in life is new, or better put, nothing in itself is original. We are inspired and moulded by nature, society and our environment.

In the movie The Dark Knight Arises, Barnes made a statement to Batman, “You merely adopted the dark, I was born in it, moulded by it; I didn’t see the light till I was a man and when I did it was nothing but blinding.”

That there is a pattern of Barnes knowing the darkness as normal, while the light was odd to him. Permit me another example: if you are a millennial, you most likely grew up calling every noodle ‘Indomie’ or toothpaste ‘Macleans’ or ‘Close Up’, and that’s because those were what was mostly available and what we were used to. Now, that is a pattern. If you had grown up with Mimi noodles, would you have thought Indomie has the best noodles?

Do you get it now?

Let’s draw the pattern of the plight, neglect and illusion of the Nigerian youth.

Plight: A dangerous, difficult or otherwise unfortunate situation.

May I ask these simple questions before we delve into our plight as youths: Is your environment dangerous?

Compared to the global standard, do you think your situation easier or more difficult?

The plight we face as everyday youths in Nigeria is one of looking for ways to beat the system designed to keep us forever dependent on it. Feudalism, some call it, and to a large extent, they are right in every way. The youth adapted and became logistics experts, delivering goods and services around the nation. Then came the policy in Lagos State and, off course, then came NIPOST.

We became tech savvy, learning most of what we know with our smart phones, due to the obvious low-income situation the average Nigerian youth faces, which makes a laptop a luxury item. Sometimes I wonder the fate of Tecno, Itel, etc. – if the economy improves and income goes up, would they still have a market share here in Nigeria? – as their market penetration method is designed on offering ‘more for less’. Well, this is a whole discourse for another day.

Can we talk of the Nigerian situation without talking of politics? Without talking about the myth of ‘the youth do not participate’ in politics? Are you surprised by the use of the word ‘myth’? You should not be because that’s what it is – a myth. Youths have always been the forerunners of politics in Nigeria’s post-colonial era…

So, back to the point. We became tech savvy looking for what to invent, looking for how to make good of ourselves, then came SARS or FSARS or SWAT – I lost track of the many name changes – and not to forget quickly, the judgmental society that does not understand the concept of earning without a 9-5 job or as the case may be averagely in Nigeria, the 8-5 job.

Then a spark came, the crypto spark, and it got the youths excited because, who wouldn’t be? A way to beat the system and connect to the global world, this crypto spark brought about a long chain of income avenues and knowledge of the stock trade for the entrepreneurs, the traders, the middle men, and literally everyone participating in the everyday biggest ‘global’ financial market. While we thought, ‘victory at last!’, a new way found to beat the hurdles set by our system, the system and its designers also schemed how to undermine our new found victory and yes, to a good extent, they found a way to do this.

They attacked, no thanks to a willing, out-of-touch “technocrat” who has focused the nation’s resources on manual labour farming and urged the youths towards a “farming or the highway” route. Well, we picked the highway. For the sake of direction, the highly intelligent technocrat is popularly called “Meffy” on social platforms and, yes, the systems are designed not out of error but for a purpose.

Can we talk of the Nigerian situation without talking of politics? Without talking about the myth of ‘the youth do not participate’ in politics? Are you surprised by the use of the word ‘myth’? You should not be because that’s what it is – a myth. Youths have always been the forerunners of politics in Nigeria’s post-colonial era, and the ages of Nigeria’s past military heads of state can confirm this. His Excellency, President Muhammad Buhari was in his 30s when he took over power from the democratically elected government of Shehu Shagari, but isn’t it ironic that this same youths from way back have been the ones holding on to power in Nigeria till date?

How more ironic could it be that those in the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), who fought for the freedom of the country from the stranglehold of the military in power are the ones literally in power today? And still, there is no clear sight of a process of transition of youths to positions of leadership. Wondering why?  Because, like I stated earlier, by design and not error, the system has been crafted to keep us engaged in worshiping messiahs who share crumbs of bread to us and others once in every four years: It is designed to keep us looking for the daily bread than aspiring to become leaders.

The ‘Not Too Young’ law is a milestone attained, but we need to keep pushing for more. Nigeria’s is a political system designed on monetisation, with a population in which the majority live below the global standard of a good living. A system that makes it difficult for Adamu based in Ebonyi to freely vote there or Chima based in Sokoto to freely vote in Sokoto. A system that neglects the efforts of its youths in the political setting. One that demands servitude and loyalty, with no question asked. This is the myth of ‘the youth do not participate in politics’ and it brings me to my second point – neglect.

That ‘politics is different’ is the biggest illusion sold to the youths. Politics determines the very existence of the country, economically and otherwise; so, yes, it is not different from your job or business; it is enshrined in every aspect of our life; it is what breaks or makes the nation.

Neglect is simply defined as the failure to care properly for an item or a person. In this case, it concerns Nigerian youths. It’s an all too familiar terrain for the youth and not just for the Millennials and Gen-Z but also for Generation Y. It’s been more of a colonial indoctrination that has lasted into the postcolonial milieu, with the military era not helping matters. Everyone was literally being unconsciously honed to look out for themselves, while neglecting others but their own ‘stomach infrastructure.’ This practice is enshrined in our political sphere, where we have youths actively participating in politics, from being foot soldiers and shaping the narrative of campaigns to winning over opposition members via person-to-person conversations.

At the end, what is left for them are the mere words of, “be patient your time will come”, or worse – the sudden loss of access to the so-called leaders they toiled and campaigned for, thereby creating a mentorship vacuum. This form of political neglect hurts mentally and sets a huge bad precedent for other youths looking to ply the same political route. It is already too much a burden to be neglected by a system designed to make you struggle and this is where the illusion sets in.

Illusion is simply defined as a wrong or misinterpreted perception of a sensory situation. Illusion is that ‘youths don’t participate in politics’, forgetting that those who are shouting this are well into their 60s to 80s, but they started off in their 20s to 30s and participated fully in designing the current system that keeps the ones after them under lock.

In terms of the illusion of ‘politics is for the strong’, why won’t it be thought so, when the works of the youths are trampled upon and stolen without due credit, as a result of unquestionable loyalty, which is a form of deceit or better still slavery.

That ‘politics is different’ is the biggest illusion sold to the youths. Politics determines the very existence of the country, economically and otherwise; so, yes, it is not different from your job or business; it is enshrined in every aspect of our life; it is what breaks or makes the nation.

I wish to let the youths see the plight they face every day and to pat them on the back to let them know that they are yet doing well. I want them to understand the burden of neglect that the society has heaved on them and to let them know that the illusion of not being able to lead or participate in politics is all but a façade to keep the system running in the same way. I urge the youths on the path of politics: Do not deter, keep on working hard, keep the faith, and just like the great Kwame Nkrumah would say, “Seek ye first the political kingdom.”

Chi Dika is a history and geo-politics enthusias,  A student of the philosophy “the logic of realities” and one who believes in the Nigerian dream and the role Nigeria play in reshaping the narrative of the black race. Email: cchidika@gmail.com 

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